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Europa League Team of the Week: Matias Delgado the Star for Basel

Daniel EdwardsFeatured Columnist IIIOctober 12, 2016

Europa League Team of the Week: Matias Delgado the Star for Basel

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    Laurent Cipriani

    Just like the Champions League, the UEFA Europa League has reached its decisive stages. Thursday evening played host to the competition's four quarter-final first legs, with plenty of action and the odd surprise thrown in as well for the viewer. 

    Europe's secondary club tournament is a great stage for players not usually in the headlines to make a name, especially in the final rounds when things really get going. But who impressed more than most during the opening matches of the last-eight? 

    Here are the 11 men who stood out most in an exciting evening of continental football.

Goalkeeper

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    Martin Meissner

    There was no shortage of possibilities for the No. 1 jersey when compiling this week's team of the week. Juventus and Italy legend Gianluigi Buffon showed his normal unflappable form in keeping a clean sheet for the Italians, while Artur impressed in keeping out AZ in the Netherlands. 

    But the performance of the evening, backed up by a splendid all-round display from his team, goes to Basel shot-stopper Yann Sommer. 

    The young goalkeeper came up big in the second half when Valencia awoke from their stupor. Eduardo Vargas and Seydou Keita were both thwarted by Sommer, who ensured that Basel would have one foot in the last-four after a 3-0 rout.

Defence

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    Paulo Duarte

    Taking Antonio Conte's victorious Juventus as inspiration, our team of the week will be anchored by a forward-thinking back three. But Leonardo Bonucci is the only member of the Juve back-line to make it into the side, as he is joined by two other top performers. 

    Like the Old Lady defender, Porto centre-back Eliaquim Mangala helped his team to a 1-0 victory over Sevilla with a fantastic diving header, converting Ricardo Quaresma's cross to seal a slim triumph at home. 

    The trio is completed by Ezequiel Garay, of Benfica. The Argentine put in a fantastic shift to keep AZ at bay away from home and was always present for the Portuguese giants as they took home a valuable 1-0 lead.

Midfield

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    Laurent Cipriani

    With just three at the back, pace and potency from the men out wide is the key for this five-man midfield. Luckily, the best XI can count on two highly talented wingers who did their respective clubs proud on Thursday evening. 

    Porto's Ricardo Quaresma set up the Dragao goal and caused serious problems for the Sevilla defence all night with his trickery and intelligence. Another player to star was Kwadwo Asamoah who, in a subdued performance from Serie A holders Juventus, proved a key player with his work out wide. 

    Further inside, Basel's Marcelo Diaz gave further proof of his class with another accomplished display to keep out Valencia. Goalscorer Valentin Stocker, playing a little further towards the centre of the pitch, and the tireless Arnold Mvuemba complete the roster.

Attack

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    Ariel Schalit

    There is no doubt about who the star of the evening was up front. Despite the presence of such stars as Carlos Tevez and Dani Osvaldo, there were two other Argentines who took the headlines after the first-legs, led first and foremost by the unstoppable Matias Delgado. 

    The forward hit Basel's first two goals in an unexpected 3-0 drubbing of Valencia, which leaves the Swiss team on the verge of a brilliant semi-final place in the Europa League. 

    Alongside him is Eduardo Salvio. Accompanied by a similarly accomplished performance from Rodrigo, the former Lanus man took his chance well and scored Benfica's only goal of the evening, putting the Portuguese club in the driving seat against AZ.

Overall Best XI

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    Paulo Duarte

    Sommer

    Bonucci, Garay, Mangala

    Quaresma, Stocker, Diaz, Mvuemba, Asamoah

    Delgado, Salvio

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